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Beta blockers may stop cancer spreading

3rd October 2011
Researchers have discovered that taking beta blockers could help prevent the metastasis of breast cancer.

breastcancer

According to a team headed by Cancer Research's Dr Des Powe, beta blockers - which are most usually prescribed to patients to control high blood pressure - could prevent the spread of breast cancer.

The researchers, who also include scientists from Belgium and Germany, said a previous study of 800 women had found those who took beta blockers had half the danger of the cancer spreading.

The study found that over ten years death rates fell by 71% in patients who used beta blockers.
It is understood that beta blockers interfere with the process by which oestrogen accelerates the growth of breast cancer.
The majority of breast cancers are hormone-sensitive and patients are prescribed the drug tamoxifen in order to stop it recurring.
However in 50% of cases the cancer can become resistant to tamoxifen and spread to other areas of the body.
Dr Des Powe, from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, is working on the research in collaboration with scientists from Belfast and Germany.
He said: "Cancer can be thought of as having two distinct phases - before and after the disease has spread."
"Many women will be successfully treated for their initial breast tumour but in some, the original tumour leaves a legacy - a daughter of the primary cancer."
"It is absolutely crucial to conquer cancer spread if we are to really improve breast cancer survival as this problem causes nearly all deaths from the disease."
The Cancer Research team will carry out a full study using 30,000 patients and will present their findings next year.

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